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Thailand

Combating Slavery at Sea

In the waters of Thailand, thousands of men are currently employed in the fishing industry — many of them against their will. Promised a way out of their poverty, they are lured into work on fishing boats only to find that they are trapped at sea, separated from their families and forced to work in grueling conditions.

This 7-billion-dollar industry employs tens of thousands whose lives can be incredibly dangerous. Vulnerable migrant workers, primarily from Myanmar and Cambodia, are trafficked into the Thai fishing and seafood industries through deception, threats and violence. In our study of Thailand’s labor trafficking released in 2017, only 13% of workers surveyed reported fair labor conditions at sea. They were overworked and underpaid. 74.2% of people surveyed reported working at least 16 hours a day. 89% of them received less than minimum wage.

Their average monthly pay was equivalent to $166.80 per month. The majority were in debt bondage. 76% were restricted from leaving work until they paid off their debts. Human trafficking is a lucrative business — profits top $150 billion a year globally according to the International Labour Organization. Like other forms of slavery, labor trafficking thrives when criminals are free to prey on victims without fearing the law.

A sustainable anti-trafficking solution must involve criminal prosecution. International Justice Mission Thailand is partnering with the Royal Thai Government, the Department of Special Investigation and local law enforcement to combat labor trafficking in the fishing and seafood industries in Thailand to end the impunity within which traffickers operate, resulting in a significant reduction of trafficking cases.

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Imagine what life would be like if no country claimed you:

to live a life without freedom, vulnerable to oppression and slavery in every form due to a complex, unresponsive and prejudiced justice system.

While the Bangkok field office was founded in 2017 to focus on helping the Thai government combat slavery at sea, IJM has long been established in this epicenter of Southeast Asia since 2000. In the North of Thailand, approximately 400,000 ethnic minority members were denied access to their basic rights, making them vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. After 20 years of persistence working closely beside government officials and forming community networks, IJM Chiang Mai has transformed how the justice system approaches the issue of statelessness, creating an unstoppable pathway to legal status for current and future generations.

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IJM is working in partnership with the Walmart Foundation.

"In IJM Bangkok's first case, Thai authorities found a Cambodian national guilty of trafficking five Cambodian nationals into forced labor in the Thai fishing industry."

Andrew Wasuwongse IJM Bangkok Field Office Director

"International Justice Mission's successful stories have inspired us to fight against any forms of violence and slavery happening in Thailand."

H.E. Mr. Chuti Krairiksh Minister of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand

"Some people think citizenship is just a plastic card - but in reality, those without that card don't have a life"

Khemachat Saksakunmongkhon IJM Chiang Mai Field Office Director

"With IJM staff at court during the trial, I felt comfortable testifying even in the presence of the perpetrator."

IJM Bangkok Client Cambodian National

"I thought this day would never come. Before I was not a person. Now I am!"

IJM Chiang Mai client on receiving ID card

Our Teams in Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand

Field Office Director: Andrew Wasuwongse
Established: 2017
Focus: Labor Trafficking in the Thai Fishing Industry

download the fact sheet

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Field Office Director: Khemachat Saksakunmongkhon
Established: 2000
Focus: Citizenship Rights Abuse

download the fact sheet
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